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Kodak Sues Sony Over Patent Infringement - 2004-03-12

An American film company slaps a lawsuit on a Japanese technology giant.

U.S. film company Eastman Kodak has filed a lawsuit against Sony accusing the Japanese electronics giant of infringing on 10 of its patents for digital camera technology.

Kodak says the suit, filed where Kodak is based in Rochester, New York, follows the breakdown of talks between the two companies over a licensing deal. Kodak is demanding that Sony stop using the technology.

The action covers patents registered between 1987 and 2003, including techniques for compressing and digitally storing images. Sony rejects the allegations and vows to fight the suit.

Meanwhile, in the auto sector, companies from the United States and Japan have agreed to share technology patents. Toyota Motor, Japan's largest automaker, will provide U.S. auto giant Ford with technologies for environmentally friendly vehicles.

The move comes as automakers around the world are stepping up efforts to develop hybrid cars amid growing concerns about the environment. Hybrid cars use a mix of electricity and gas to produce fewer fuel emissions.

Toyota launched the world's first commercial hybrid vehicle, the Prius sedan, in 1997 and has so far sold more than 200,000 units worldwide.

Sentiment in Japan's services sector is brightening. A government survey shows that store managers, taxi drivers, travel agents and others say business picked up last month.

The survey results are calculated into an index subtracting the percentage of respondents who say conditions have worsened this quarter from those saying it has improved. The index now stands at 50.1, just a fraction above the neutral level of 50.

Japan Business Federation Chairman Hiroshi Okuda told reporters that the data reflect broader trends.

He says it will take time to see economic recovery but it is now spreading from big companies to smaller companies.

The survey confirms recent signals that Japan is emerging from more than a decade of severe economic troubles and is in the early stages of a rebound.